A report published today by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says that unexplained variations in the use of benefits sanctions are unacceptable and must be addressed.
The PAC - a group of MPs from different political parties including Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat - urge the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to review the use of sanctions, which "have increased in severity in recent years and can have serious consequences".
Responding to the report, Ayaz Manji, Policy and Campaigns Officer at Mind, said:
“We welcome this report which recognises the negative impact that benefit sanctions have on people with mental health problems and which urges the Government to do more to understand their impact. Stopping or threatening to stop someone’s benefits when they’re too unwell to work is cruel, inappropriate, and ineffective at helping them back into employment. Now is the time for a meaningful overhaul of the benefits and back-to-work system that focuses on support rather than sanctions.
“Many people with mental health problems tell us they fear their benefits will be stopped when they can’t do what they’re asked to do. This punitive approach often makes people more ill and therefore less likely to be able to work. Withdrawing or threatening to take away financial support is based on the false assumption that cutting someone’s money will motivate them to find work. Most people who are out of work due to their mental health don’t lack motivation and want to work, but face lots of barriers in getting into and staying in employment. We want to see an end to the use of sanctions for people with mental health problems.”